Saturday, February 15, 2014

The "S" Word

Sophie and I had to re-up her supply before the big storm, so we headed over to the public library after school.

As we came down the stairs to the basement of the building modeled after Jefferson’s Monticello, Sophie asked:

“Mom, can I take out Junie B. Jones.  Please?  Anne brought it to school today and Ms. M read us the first chapter. There were no bad words in it.  Really.” 

“Soph, I don’t like Junie B. Jones.”  I don’t.  Junie B. Jones uses bad words.  It’s a gateway book.  Like the Berenstain Bears book about bullying.  It’s intended to teach children bullying is bad.  However, a research study cited in the book, Nurture Shock, which cleverly debunks the conventional wisdom on a number of parenting topics, found that The Berenstain Bears and the Bully actually has the opposite effect on children.  It teaches them how to bully. 

Just like Junie B. Jones unwittingly teaches children to use what I deem are bad words.

“I know you don’t like it mom.” We walk through the doorway as Sophie argues her case at full volume: 

“But every time I read the ‘s’ word, I can think of a different ‘s’ work, like ‘silly.’”

At this, the head of every parent in the children’s reading room swivels in my direction. 

This is what embarrassment feels like. 

I say very loudly to everyone and no one in particular, “The ‘S’ word, by the way, is not the word you’re all thinking. “  Now I realize I’ve gotten myself in a bind, because I can’t tell them which “s” word I mean without saying the “s” word out loud, in front of Sophie.  “It’s a word I consider to be much worse.  Synonymous with unintelligent.” 

No, this is what embarrassment feels like. 

The parents take their eyes off the crazy woman who just entered the room and turn back to their children, whispering unintelligible things (about me). 

I decided to give Junie B. Jones another try.  Maybe I haven’t given her a fair shake.  I walk over to her section, which is not far from the Magic Tree House books.  Number One is entitled, Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus. 

Nope.  Can’t do it.  That….silly…book isn’t coming home with us.  

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